White bugs on my sunflower...mealybugs maybe?

sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)February 5, 2013

Hi i discovered these white bugs on one of my sunflowers today. There are tons of them ALL OVER IT! as you can see in the pic. Also the ants are on there too probably after the sappy stuff the bugs leave behind. I got rid of the plant. Just pulled it out and chucked it before it could spread to any other plants. What i want to know is what type of bugs these are? I think they may be a kind of mealy bug or whitefly nymph? In the sunlight they look white but in the closeup you can see they are a clearish white colour with 4 sort of darker dots on their body. These dots are what confuses me because normal mealybugs dont usually have them? What do you think they are?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)

close up

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 6:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

look like aphids to me.. but i am not that up close and personal with my bugs.. to name them individually .. ol ..

ants would be harvesting the honeydew of aphids ...

a very light weight pyrethrum spray would do them in.. as blast of water would probably do it also ...

a bit over-reacting there.. destroying it before you could type a message ... a few bugs should be that stressful ....

i stand by bugs attacking stressed plants.. why is there black plastic right next to your plants????

ken

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 7:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)

I have a few sunflowers and they are almost at the stage where you get rid of them anyway and plant new ones because the flowers are dead. Some have new flowers growing but this one didnt so i chucked it. The black plastic is on the fence. Our dog hates the dog next door so we put up black plastic on the fence so he would stop running up and down the fence barking at the dog all day. Its funny because this flower grew facing the black plastic while all the others grew facing the yard and garden. Hubby said this is because sunflowers face towards heat and the plastic is probably giving off heat in the sun. True...just strange that it was the only one that grew facing that way. Anyway for one sunflower that was almost dead anyway i thought i could spare it to save all my other ones. A few have 6 more flowers opening up along their stems. This should be quite spectacular when they are all open :D Anyway i did google aphids when i was trying to determine what kind of bugs they were though i thought they looked a different shape to aphids and had more legs?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 7:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

The white things are probably mealybugs.

The black things are ants which are harvesting the honeydew (sticky stuff) produced by the white things.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 12:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

Hubby said this is because sunflowers face towards heat and the plastic is probably giving off heat in the sun.

==>> wouldnt they be called heatflowers then.. lol ...

they are almost at the stage where you get rid of them anyway and plant new ones

==>> that fits in my definition of stressed.. past their prime ... time to go.. get out of my face. be done with it sort of plant .. lol ...

aphid... mealy.. jeans probably right.. its her job.. lol .. to be right i mean ... but its the same cures for any soft skinned sap sucking bug ....

get rid of the worst.. get a glasscleaner bottle [quart spray bottle] with properly diluted pyrethrum product [or soapy water would probably work] .... and just insure that the population doesnt go crazy .... i would just spend a few mins after dinner.. checking on them.. i would not nuke the whole yard .. unless they become the 8th plague of the bible ...

dogs.. what can i say ... that wont lead to cussing .. lol ..

ken

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 9:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

I wouldn't put stuff like that in my yard, and definitely not because of bugs on one annual plant. Washing them off with the hose would probably do as much good anyway, but before the plant gets to looking like this. I don't see anything about this plant to save or if that's even possible. If these bugs wanted to be all over the surrounding plants too, they would be. If you kill every bug you see, beneficial predator bugs will never show up either.

Those spots on the leaves look like some kind of pathogen, so plant may be under 2 kinds of attack. Could just be dog pee though, you said "he."

If killing some bugs will be the only way to make you feel better, I'd recommend going after the ants who may establish/farm colonies of these bugs on other plants.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 3:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)

haha yes or heatflowers ... i guess the black plastic next to that one was hotter then the sun? :P anyway sunflowers do seem to die after their cycle so it would make sence that they get attacked at this weak time of their lives. 'purpleinopp' they arent on the ones next to it but there is a lovely spider thats made a home on those ones? perhaps the spider is keeping them away? some of the newer flowers on the other plants started to open yesterday. Anyway the spots on the plants i thought were just dry crispy dead bits from not being watered enough in our scorching heat at the moment. 39 degrees! thats the hottest weve had here since ive been living here (14 years) Anyway i hope your right that they dont spread to the other plants. I would very much like to see the flowers open. I didnt notice this bug infestation slowly occuring as i was away for a week in a half for family reasons and the weather was quite wild when i was away and hubby had to stalk up the sunflowers as the rain and wind kind of ruined them. Anyway i will definitely not be nuking the whole yard ;P

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 6:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

You're right, sunflowers are definitely annuals, which die within a year, usually upon completion of reproduction. Unfortunately, by the time they start blooming, it's rare that all of the leaves still look great. But that's good news in that your flowers will probably still open if there's a few green leaves still, or leaves that are mostly still green, that's the plant's only mission.

Once leaves more brown or yellow than green, it's fine to cut them off, or at least the brown part, if you feel like it, because they are no longer performing photosynthesis for the plant. If you put something about half the height near sunflowers, that can help hide the browning leaves and increasingly naked stalks. If they're the really tall ones, maybe grow morning glories or other annual vines up their stalks.

Spiders are one of the heroes of the garden because they are strictly carnivores and many of them eat pest bugs that bother plants, right again. Whatever you'd put to kill the mealies would likely not be good for the spider's health either, should the spider come in contact with the substance, or possibly by ingesting a poisoned, dying pest. When growing something a first time, new pests can be attracted. Whatever likes to eat that pest may not show up as quickly, readily as the pest. But generally if you do some manual control, the small amount of pests remaining will soon attract the attention of the appropriate predators, who will exploit the opportunity as long as it exists.

Sunflowers like heat, right again. That would make them more thirsty, more right. I'm sure you can tell if your ground is dry or not (and not just 'cuz you're pretty much always right. LOL!) When you water, try to keep the leaves dry if possible. Dripping/splashing water could spread a pathogen, if your plant(s) has one. Apparently your temp is 102F (39C), which is fine for sunflowers, it regularly gets that hot here.

When leaves die from lack of water, the effect isn't usually spots. On sunflower, leaves will die from the ground up, from the tip of the leaf toward the stalk end of the leaf, a leaf might turn completely yellow before doing that. What's tricky is that if you water your plant too much, it will look the same way. In the heat of afternoon, wilt can be deceiving and transient on plants like sunflower. If a plant looks wilted in the morning, that's the real deal.

So sorry some got knocked over!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 12:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)

Haha i am definitely not always right lol. I just read alot on the internet when i am bored at work and so learn a few things about the garden. Thats a good tip not watering the whole sunflower just the ground. I think i do that anyway but will make sure i do do it in the future. Apart from when it rains i do try and water my sunflowers every day. They seem to enjoy that. They only wilt if i forget a day but i am out there watering the strawberries and herbs every day also because the soil just dries up so fast here with this hot weather at the moment, so i dont usually forget the sunflowers. Also the grasshoppers are out in large numbers at the moment and eating EVERYTHING! a few plants were ruined last year because of them also. They are only recovering now. But they do love the sunflowers which probably isnt helping their pest problem or possible pathogen. I noticed yesterday the white bugs are making their way over to the other flowers now but as there are only a couple on them i will spray them instead of getting rid of them so i can still enjoy their lovely flowers. Unfortunately that will drive mr spider away but im sure he'll find another home. And protect a different plant.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 6:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

A very reasonable plan, IMHO. Have fun!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 8:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)

UPDATE! the white bugs spread to the other sunflowers so the spray and getting rid of that first sunflower didnt help. I found this big ugly spindly looking bug on it today as well and there were whole groups of white fluffy looking eggs or something on there too...heres a pic...what is that huge bug?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 7:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Well, its either a mealy bug on steroids or its a Crypts larvae (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri) which is eating the mealy bugs.

tj

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 10:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)

ahhh well now that you say that i googled it and you are probably right ...it does look like a Crypts larvae. I am over these bugs and the sunflowers just look withered and dead so i have ripped them all out and poisoned the weeds that were growing around them. Hopefully that will also kill whatever bugs are left in those weeds. I will plant something new there in a few months when i decide what i want there.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 10:56PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
A rabbit! Argh!
Of all the problems I expected in a suburban dessert,...
deserthawk
Whitefly?
Hi guys, I have had whitefly interfering with some...
botch13
Spots on my apple tree leaves
Hi, Spots have been appearing on my new apple trees....
nat9510
Black/brown dots on basil, diamond-shaped bugs
Hello, So, something has been injuring my basil plant....
yotekai
Question for the 'Regular' contributors
I've noticed a real slow down in this forum since the...
rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™